Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trip to Sea World

So those of you who know me, know that if I'm posting at 11:30 at night--something is way wacked out.  I'm an early to bed early to rise kind of gal.  Well, Statistics is totally kicking my butt!!  I haven't taken a math course since college algebra in 1991.  Heaven help--whose idea was this school stuff anyway??

We took a short vacay last week.  The little boys have been wanting to see the dolphins for a while.  So, we road tripped to San Antonio.  Let's just say that driving isn't our family's biggest skill---took forever to get there!  Several potty breaks were needed. 

In front of Sea World

This is how Dillon keeps his world in order when he's stressed--the "peace" hands.  Bless his littel heart, having Sensory Integration Disorder is kind of stinky at times.

Splashing in the Sesame Street play area

Walking with Daddy

Mesmerized by Shamu

Mike got an awesome pic of me and Abby screaming as we tip down the splash ride(Abby has the hot yellow shirt on).  My face looks like I'm dying.  Carter-in the Texas Ranger's t-shirt is totally playing it cool--wondering why he rode with Abby and I!

Shamu rocks!

If your fam is like mine--large and broke--then you'll appreciate this info.  We got a coupon out of a travel brochure for Drury Inn and Suites.  Totally rocked the hotel.  Now, there wasn't anything beautiful or luxurious about it.  But, it had a full size fridge, a microwave, 2 queen beds, a separate living room area with love seat and recliner.  For 79.99/night, we got free breakfast.  They also had a 5:30 "kickback" time of refreshments.  Let's just say that after our family's "kickback", they may change their policy!  We ate free dinner there each night!  Hot dogs, nachos, drinks, salad, chicken nuggets, macaroni....perfect for our crap ola vacation meals ;) 
To top off the tightwad image of mine, I packed a cooler for Sea World.  We walked to the parking lot at noon and sat in the minivan, with the back seat folded down.  We had Gatorades, made sandwiches, ate chips and fruit.  It was a nice break and then we went back in to Sea World--no jipped prices for us.

On a different note, if you think about it, would you say a quick prayer for Abby?  She's been suffering with bad stomach pains since Sunday evening.  We've done blood work twice, a sonogram, and a CT scan and can't find anything.  She was much better this evening and just came in crying and holding her stomach again.  Sad and frustrating!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

FYI--great adoption conference coming up

Hope For Orphans(I've seen them host conferences in person and they are fan-stinkin-tastic!) is hosting a seminar in September.  It will focus on special needs and at-risk children, and, how families can be better prepared for these issues.  For a link to their website, click HOPE

See ya there

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We can grieve with hope

1Th 4:13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep(die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

Yesterday was the funeral of our friend's husband.  It was a total kick in the pants funeral.  Tears from start to finish.  The church was packed.  Seeing a bunch of boys wearing their baseball uniform in support of their grieving friend is heartbreaking.  What was the kicker was the wife.  What a ROCK of a woman.  She got up and read the most amazing eulogy--surrounded by her 2 older sons and her 14yr old son, all dressed up, holding on to his momma, supporting her.  She was so poised, so strong, so positive about the legacy of love, faithfulness, and spiritual heritage her husband left.  I lost it when she talked about how this past Father's Day, her husband and the daughter they lost 4 years ago spent Father's Day together in heaven and about how when they adopted their 4yr old little girl from China, she was terrified of the big burly man.  She'd turn her head away from him and run out of the room(sound familiar Julie??).  But, his patient and steady love won her over and they were inseperable. 

What's the good news?  We can cry with hope.  Can you?  If you don't know for sure that you will spend eternity with Jesus, the minute you take your last breath on this earth, please find out will ya?  This man spent his last day with his family, vacationing and having fun--making memories, then in a split second--he was gone.  Find a Bible, email me, whatever, but don't wait another day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Just life

I did not forget that yesterday was Father's Day.  We certainly wished Mike a happy one.  We also went over to my aunt's home for a family gathering and saw my dad and grandfather.  I didn't choose to post about Father's Day because after a while, I feel rather cliche, following the scripts of when and what you are supposed to be saying and admiring.  Anyone who has been to this blog in the past 2 years has heard me gloat over my amazing husband.  Mike is devoted to our children, he raises them to be godly people.  He loves hundreds of other people's children at his school, he is a champion of the orphan and down-trodden.  My father is a gentle, generous, wise man who loves his 4 grown girls like crazy. He taught us about digging deep in the Word, to open our homes to the needy, and to look for beauty in art, music, and nature.  My 94-yr-old grandfather is equally awesome.  He is the smartest man I know, served in the Navy in WW2, and finds his greatest joy in seeing his family thrive.  I wrote a paper about him last week for my Gerontology class.  Blessed, that is what me and my children are, for sure.
Summer fun:  swimming in our community pool(Hudson is jumping in and swimming like a maniac), playing with cousins and friends.  Me, my mom and sister took 5 of the youngest grandkids to a really fun little indoor safari park. 

Hudson playing minigolf

My niece, Lexi(my sister Emily's dtr), riding a mechanized cheetah

My nieces, Aspen(my sister Melody's dtr) and Kylie(my sister Emily's dtr), in the back of a choochoo

My mother looks like a preschool worker, loving her crazy grandkids.  I hope I have a whole gaggle of grandkids someday with a rainbow of skin colors

Daddy daughter date night.  Gorgeous man and gorgeous tropical girl!

New Baby girl stayed with me last week.  Oooh, she's so sweet.  There's been a new development in her birthfamily case.  After my sister has been caring for her for a month, someone has cropped up.  We all love her so much and pray for Brad and Melody to be able to adopt her.  Melody has such a great attitude about fostering.  If they can give a baby/child whose suffered a trauma a few weeks to months of stability, love, and hearing Jesus prayed over them, then it is all worth it.

There aren't pics of Carter because he's been busy.  He has a new job working at a shop doing light manual labor.  He felt so great last week.  Working hard like a man, getting his first paycheck.  He bought something with his own money, put his tithe in at church, and we are suggesting(okay, forcing) him to save half for a car.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Please Pray!!!!!!!!!!!

My precious Ob/gyn's husband died suddenly yesterday.  I just woke up to the horrible email!!  This family is awesome.  They lost their darling 4yr old daughter 3 years ago.  She was adopted from China.  They have a few grown kids, a son who is 13, a 4yr old little girl whom they adopted after their other daughter died.  And, they were waiting on travel clearance for another little angel from China.  I'm sick, absolutely SICK!!!!!!!!  He carried that tiny little girl everywhere!  His wife is a rock of a woman, so selfless, ministerered to me during my miscarriage and D and C last summer.  OH, those kids---NOT FAIR.  How do they survive another tragedy like this???  The 13yr old goes to Mike's school.  Please pray like crazy for this family.

Thank you

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I ordered my super cool Hello-Somebody watch yesterday.  Shopping with a purpose is one of my all time favs!  My youngest sister is on staff at Gateway Church in Southlake(super duper church).  She got one of these watches at the huge ladies' conference in March.  One watch(22.00) feeds 100 people in Haiti and other places, like Nicarauga(amazing cause I've been to both places and seen the need first hand).    The name of the organization is Hello-Somebody, which is an awesome name.  Lord knows, I've wanted to shout out HELLLLLOOOO Somebody to people about the global 163 million orphan crisis!
So, I ordered me a light purple one.  Now, I'm not hip.  I'm not a jewelry, make-up, clothes, accessories type of gal.  I'm boring and plain.  But, I'm gonna wear the fire out of this watch.  I'm also going to distribute a little info card to everyone who proclaims "Oh, your watch is so cute!"  See, more mouths fed ;)
As of this morning, their ticker for hungry bellies fed is over 986,000!
 click HELLO to go there,
This statement taken from their website
"Hello Somebody’s first action to end hunger provided 50,000 meals to homeless and desperate Haitians. In our inaugural year, Hello Somebody provided food for over one million starving people.Join us in our fight to save lives and change lives. Listen to the call of the hopeless and the hungry. Will you help us answer it? Hello Somebody…are you out there?"

FYI:  an update:  it is Wednesday and the watch came today(I ordered it yesterday!).  The watch is so cool but very large.  So, if you have skinny wrists like me and aren't used to large jewelry, order the "mini"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why serve ONE hour? Because children matter

I spent 2 days last week helping my sister-in-law, Shana, with the 40 girls she brought to Girls Adventure camp.  She has taught 3rd-6th grade girls about Jesus and missions for many years.  Their church has made children's activities on Wednesday nights a priority.  And, let's be frank, many are not well-behaved and have no idea how to act in church. They send the church van around to gather children who want to come, but whose parents are not involved or interested.  The children get a free supper before the activities.  Camp is the culmination of the year.  It is at an encampment in west Texas that has been around long time(Mike used to go there for youth camp).  Everytime I go, I feel like I've stepped into a bit of a time warp, where kids learn to shoot at a target, snow cones are only 50 cents, and you get to eat mini corn dogs and jello on a foam tray.  As I've said before, teaching children is not my favorite thing to do, but I did enjoy my time there.

 I was blown away by my sister-in-law and her commitment to these girls.  Can you imagine spending 5 days with 40 little girls?  Constantly, they were surrounding her saying "Miss Shana, Miss Shana, Miss Shana."  She answers them with "babydoll, sugar" and such.  Many were desparate for a mommy's attention.  Friday morning I french braided 5 girls' hair and one of the girls said "I've always wanted my hair braided."
The town where they live(the same town Mike grew up in) is a sweet, small rural community.  There aren't many jobs left .  Everybody knows everybody.  Shana's church is a beacon of love for the children.  I am shocked at the number of unchurched, poor children that Shana serves in this ministry.  The stories of some of the girls is absolutely appaling and heart-breaking and they are so desperate for a mommy's attention.  A few of the girls are children of minority, migrant workers.  They live in the type of poverty I incorrectly thought was only in inner-cities. 
These girls come to Shana's class every Wednesday for one hour.  That one hour is when they have fun, are free from worries, hear that they are special and made with a great purpose, that Jesus loves them, and that some adult really cares.  One hour, that is all.  But that one hour is life-changing for many of the girls. 

So, why do Christians need to serve in children's ministry?

Because One hour can be the saving grace for a little child.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The App for all you frugal mommas!

I'm not a wacky extreme budgeter and couponer, really I'm not(although I am totally aware that of my obsessive personality).  Usually, I get all crazy and obsessed with budgeting, jogging, or most recently couponing, and it last about 3 months.  Then I'm back to my mediocrity.  Fact is, I have to be a little extreme.  We've made choices in our lives that require certain sacrifices and such:  4 precious children(3 international adoption)s, trips to several foreign countries, Christian school, I have always worked part-time, tithing and giving.  Plus, it seems like everything we own breaks so that costs a lot too(just found out this morning our lawn-mower has self-destructed and we need a new one)!  Not only all that, but my desire is to be a good steward.  The Bible teaches that if you aren't faithfully managing the little things, God won't entrust bigger responsibilities to you(my favorite book on this type of stuff is The Blessed Life by Robert Morris).
If you are in a similar situation, I have a great tool to suggest.

An app for you:  Budget
It costs 99 cents on the iTunes app store.  I log in every dime that we spent.  All budgeting pros will tell you to take a spending journal.  I've tried this many times, but after about 3 days, I totally forget to write stuff in the little spiral notebook I'd carry.  My iPhone is with me constantly!  Heck, I don't even see how people function without one, I'm so used to it and dependent(and in love with it) on the darn thing.

Recent victory:
My couponing skills are still evolving.  I had the hardest time getting the groove of clipping, sorting, watching sales circulars, and then the ever important matching up of coupons to sales.  That, my frugal friends, is the key, the match up.  But, with the help of my friends Jenny and Jessica, I'm starting to understand the process.  Sweet websites have helped too(kingdomfirstmom.com, couponing101.com are 2 I use).  Finally, my triumphant moment a few days ago.  I carefully perused the Kroger ad and matched my coupons to what was on sale.  And, love Kroger for this, I loaded the e-coupons from Kroger's website to my rewards card.  I made a meal menu for 4 days based only on the sales flyer.  This is completely opposite of my old ways:  make a menu, then go shop with no regard to what was on sale or coupons.  I only purchased 5 items for regular price.  Every other item was on sale and/or I had a coupon to match.  I saved 35.00 dollars!!  Small potatoes to extreme couponers, but I was thrilled.  It was like a drug...intoxicated with saving my money and feeling like "I did it, I beat the system that makes my fork over my hard earned dollars to huge coorporations!"  :)   If I save 35 bucks each week, that is over 120.00 dollars a month!  As for a stockpile, mine is tiny but so cute and growing.  I can shop in my own closet :)  Freakish...I know that is what you are thinking.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

parenting to attach

Once again, I'm probably divulging too much, but I'm convinced there are new adoptive mommas out there going through challenges and do get the straigh answer from people they talk too.  So, if you are one of those mommas--this post is for you!
I'm changing my techniques.  Hudson needs a new approach.  He is doing great, really happy, smart, jolly, affectionate--most of the time.  However, he does have a propensity to come unglued at something small and go into a loud crying fit that lasts about 10 minutes.  Remember how he used to vomit in public when he was overstimulated?  Now he cries, no actually shrieks with tears, when mad.  I admit it, it irks me.  Anyway, lately, Hudson has had more of these tirades, interestingly enough they are only with me! Last week it hit me that I had stopped parenting to attach.  He's been home a 1yr and 9 months(was 22months when he came home).  It seems he's always been with us and I had quit trying to look at his behavior through empathetic eyes.  So, I reviewed my favorite adoptive parenting book, The Connected Child, by Dr. Karyn Purvis. Now, when the downward spiral starts, I scoop him up--kicking and screaming all the way, and go to my bedroom rocking chair.  I hold him tightly against me and sing Praise and Worship music.  It sounds sweet and all doesn't it?  The first few minutes he hates it.  He squirms to try to get out and cries all the louder, trying to drown out my voice.  But, after about 5-10 minutes, he is calm and fine.  The reality is that this takes a LOT more of my time.  It would be so much easier if I ignored the bad behavior or sent him to his room.  But, the last thing she recommends for at-risk children is isolation.  She writes offer warm interaction so that your child gets the message that "I do not need to be afraid of this adult.  I am a person of value to this person."  Be responsive so that your child gets the message that "this adult understands what I feel.  I am safe here."  And later, talking about time-in instead of time-out, she says "These isolating strategies may be useful for biological lchildren who are alredy connected and emotionally bonded to their families.  But isolating and banishing strategies are extremely problematic for at-risk children, because these kids are already disconnected from rlationaships, attachment-challenged, and mildly dissociative because of their early histories of neglect and abuse.  Isolation is not therapeutic for them."  The end result is worth it.  I enjoy the feeling of a squishy toddler molded to my lap, rocking and singing.  Precious memories for me and, hopefully, better ability to regulate his emotions and feel bonded and safe.

I hope this encourages some of you out there.
Next up:  my best budget App tool

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

And summer is off to a great start

My parents fly to Costa Rica tonight--I'm soooo jealous!

Abby and Carter are out for the summer.  Dillon will go one more day tomorrow.  Carter is already hanging out at his friend's lake house.  I love how God uses other's blessings to bless our children.  We've had lots of blessings through our kids' friends:  taken to plays, lakehouses, on little trips.  Abby is such a helper.  I've really enjoyed having her home this week.  It is like having another adult!  I may homeschool her just to have her around to help me out ;)
The past 2 days we've been busy with a surprise.  Carter's 2 best friends won't be returning to his school next year.  He is very sad about this.  Then, he got some more very disappointing news last week.  So, we are redecorating his room while he is away.  Despite my love for a beige home, we painted one wall a cherry red!  We bought new bedding and Mike is installing a new ceiling light. 
I think he will be cheered up when he sees it.

I have an assignment for Art Appreciation due in a few days.  I took Abby and Hud with me to the world famous art museum in our city(sorry, afraid of wackos--cant disclose where we are).  I am eating crow now because guess what?  Taking Art Appreciation, as much as I've detested the course, made me appreciate the art so much more.  I grew up in a family that appreciates art.  My parents took us to the art museum and we watched classics and musicals.  But, this time, after learning about the pieces in my class, I was amazed by the art work.  I recognized paintings by Frida Kahlo and sculptures by the Yoruba in Africa, all before reading the info plaque on the wall!!  I'm looking at grad school options and will apply next April.  Finishing this class brings me one step closer to returning to Haiti and Nicarauga some day as a Family Nurse Practitioner!

We kept my nearly 3yr old niece, Aspen, for the night on Saturday.  In church, she stayed Uncle Mike's arms.  She's a worshipper and moves to the music and lifts her hands.  I watched him with that little girl and thought, just maybe...we could adopt one more little girl!!  Mike says we are done and we don't have it in us anymore.  I wanted to argue with him, but I was too exhausted.  Guess he just proved his point ;)